Grow Up, Ranger Fans
By Eric Reining
Two afternoons after Derek Holland‘s worst start of 2013, Yu Darvish accomplished the same feat. The A’s tuned up the Rangers’ ace for 5 runs and 5 hits — in 5-plus innings — and for the first time this year Darvish walked more batters (6) than he retired on strikes (4). Without getting all meta on you, I can comfortably say Wednesday’s affair in Oakland was singularly the most deflating game of the season.
Yu Darvish has been brilliant since arriving to the states, yet, out of the 56 starts he has now accumulated over the last two years, only one registers on the same abysmal plane as Wednesday’s. By virtue of surrendering 6 walks, getting only 4 punch outs, and serving up 2 home runs in 5 innings on the bump, yesterday Yu posted a single-game xFIP of 7.23; the lone start even relatively comparable during these last two seasons came on June 7th, 2012, where he allowed — check this — 6 walks, produced 4 strikeouts, and gave up a homer. His single-game xFIP that day, which objectively is considered the worst start of his career, was 8.56. That, too, came against the A’s.
The loss moves the Rangers back into a first-place tie with Oakland, which is a trend we should see continuing over these last 24 games, schedules be damned. On paper the two clubs are about as evenly matched as it gets: In 2013 Texas has scored 628 runs, Oakland 626; the Rangers have allowed 547 runs, the A’s 544. The good guys lead the head-to-head series 9-to-7.
Call me a contrarian if you wish, but I’m not quite ready to jump on the this team sucks bandwagon just yet. Because if Twitter is any indication, you would think the club was 10 games out of 1st right now. Sure, the Rangers just lost two out of three against its primary competition, in what was the most critical series of the year. In addition, their two best starters got absolutely rocked.
And that blows. I get it.
However, in the ten hours or so since yesterday’s loss, I remember the simplicity in what I was hoping for heading into this week’s series: Just don’t let us get swept. One out of three, on the road, in Oakland, is not the worst thing in the world.
Maybe we didn’t expect Martin Perez to deliver the best start of the week, or maybe we anticipated more out of Holland and Darvish (duh), but let’s not pretend being tied for the division lead with three-and-a-half weeks remaining is the worst-case scenario. In fact, I would be willing to bet that, if I’d have told you the Rangers would be in the position they are in right now before the season started, the heavy majority would have taken it.
Whoever didn’t would be irrational and clueless.
The problem is, even with how optimistic I am in trying to convince everyone the sky isn’t falling, the flip-side to the Eric Reining coin is perfectly content with second place. I’m smug in watching the fan base eat each other alive over some stupid ass baseball games. Actually, to take it a step further, I would even say I think most Ranger fans deserve for their team to lose. Some would probably consider me sadistic, and that’s OK, because whether my favorite teams wins or not, I’m still going to love them the same amount when I wake up in the morning.
I’ve loved baseball since I was a little boy, since my dad and I played catch in the backyard of my childhood home. My mom would sit there, rock back and forth in her chair, drink her wine, and probably think to herself how wonderful it was to see her 4 year-old son throwing a baseball to his daddy. Oh, what magical times those must have been.
My love for the Rangers followed shortly thereafter; they were the first team I played on in Little League. It was a blessing and a curse from that day forward.
I’ve spent too much fucking time putting my hopes and dreams into a bad baseball team not to appreciate just how great it feels to be 21 games over .500 on September 5th. The thing I used to like most about the Rangers was how it felt like they were mine. Like no one else in California paid any attention to them. They were bad enough, after all, that why would anyone give a damn?
2010 is where my true angst began as a baseball fan. The Rangers went from nothing to powerhouse seemingly overnight, and they’ve been on the map ever since. Fans came out of the woodwork, some started cheering for them because they were winning, and now everyone has a hot take on everything that’s wrong with the team. I don’t have numbers at my disposal, and I’m not even sure if it’s quantifiable — other than attendance, maybe — but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Rangers have generated more fans over these last 4 years than any team in baseball, and probably by a wide margin. The Texas Rangers are no longer mine; they belong to everybody now.
Personally, I still feel like a child when the Rangers lose a game. Internally I revert back to days where I would throw Skip-Bo cards at my grandmother after she beat me in a meaningless card game. I still feel it. I still feel it like we all feel it.
The difference is, the rationalization period is much shorter for me now than it was then. I might be angry for the rest of the day, or at least until my mom got me a happy meal from McDonalds, or some ice cream, or whatever, back then. Now all I have to do is remember what it felt like during the entire 2000’s decade, when there was no hope, no future, no nothing when it came to the Rangers.
I might be an asshole. That criticism is more than fair, especially if you polled the women who are now out of my life. But if you need perspective on a baseball team that was pathetic from 1972-2009, look no deeper than yourself, and your own experiences in baseball.
We have it so good right now.